Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz

Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal & Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Minn.

June 12, 2000

Legislature supports the 'great outdoors'

By State Senator Steve Dille

The first days of summer are fast approaching, along with our opportunities to enjoy Minnesota's wealth of fishing, hunting, camping, and wildlife watching.

As an outdoor enthusiast myself, I am excited to say that Minnesota's fish and wildlife programs received much attention in the 2000 legislative session.

In fact, everyone who enjoys "The Great Outdoors" will benefit from the new environment and natural resource laws passed this session.

With the threat of urban sprawl and dwindling resources, it is important to notice when Mother Nature needs a helping hand. The Legislature extended an arm of financial aid to help the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) handle the cost of managing fish and wildlife, which has increased 20 percent since 1991.

In order to protect Minnesota's wildlife and fishery management programs, hunting and fishing license fees were increased 15 to 20 percent. The increase should raise $5.2 million for the conservation of our fish and wildlife populations.

Additionally, almost $30 million will be transferred from general revenue to the DNR's game and fish fund to improve, enhance, or protect game and fish resources, and to state and metro parks, trails, and our three zoos.

On top of the funds allocated to our state parks and trails from sale of lottery tickets, mentioned previously, $5.4 million in bonding funds will be allocated to preserving and expanding our parks and trails statewide.

Whether you hike the Lake Superior Trail or hold family barbecues at a state park, you should notice improvements in the quality and number of parks and trails.

Lighted fishing lures with hooks attached are now legal, thanks to a manufacturers' agreement to use an environmentally safe battery.

Lastly, beginning in 2001, lifetime hunting and fishing licenses will be offered to Minnesota residents. These licenses make great gifts that encourage our children and grandchildren to form a lifetime appreciation of Minnesota's natural resources.

I co-authored the session's most high profile environmental bill: Environment Legacy 2000. The Legacy bill designated capital bonding funds to help our state improve water quality by reducing pollution and sediment entering the Mississippi River, creating and restoring habitat for plants and wildlife, and allocating additional funding for our state's recreation areas, parks, and trails.

Our proposal was signed into law this session, and includes the following initiatives:

Conservation Reserve EnhanceLegislature supports the 'great outdoors'

ment Program (CREP), a major conservation proposal to improve water quality in the Minnesota River, will receive $20 million from the state, along with a federal government matching of funds. Everyone, from farmers to environmentalists, support and benefit from this new program.

Wastewater funding is a critical problem facing most communities today, making it the number one environmental concern for most citizens in Minnesota. In fact, we have a growing backlog of wastewater projects in the state.

The Minnesota Public Facilities Authority estimates that we could spend about $286 million annually on wastewater projects, while the state wastewater revolving loan fund only has the capacity to finance an average loan volume of $65 million annually.

In order to partially address this problem, the legislature appropriated an additional $19 million in grant funds to provide communities with supplemental assistance for wastewater treatment projects.

Waverly Gun Club pork shoot

Waverly Gun Club will have a shooting event and pork feed Tuesday, June 27 at the club.

Registration for the 50-bird event is $12, and is open from 4 to 9 p.m. that day. Participants may enter as many times as they wish. It includes 25 birds from the 16-yard line, and a second 25 birds with handicap.

Prizes are half a hog for first place, and $45 worth of shooting cards for second place. All entries are available for the shooters' drawing of half a hog plus other prizes.

Categories are men 19 and older, women 19 and older, and youth 18 and under.

Proceeds from the pork chop feed go to benefit the youth league program.

For more information, call Philip Marketon at 320-543-3155 or Robert Rouna at 763-682-3294.

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